I was dreaming. Ever since I was a child, I was sometimes aware, when I was dreaming, that I was in a dream. This time was the same. I was standing on the platform of a dark, empty railway station. What a gloomy dream, I thought. Then an announcement was made, in a dull, spiritless voice of a man;
"The train is approaching. If you get on it something scarrrry will happen to youuuu." It sounded nonsensical.
Soon the train came in. It wasn't a proper train, but rather like a monkey train (*1) you might see in amusement parks, and there were some men and women seated on it in a row.
I sensed something unusual about the dream, but decided to get on the train, just to see how much fear I could take. If I really found it too much I could always wake up. I was able to make myself wake up whenever I wanted, but the only time I could do that was when I was aware I was dreaming.
I settled in the third seat from the back. The air around me felt so realistically warm it was hard to believe this was a dream at all.
"The train is deparrrtiiiing," said the announcement, and the train started moving. My heart was pounding hard with both anxiety and expectation. The train entered into a tunnel soon after leaving the platform. The tunnel was illuminated with a mysterious purple-ish light.
This tunnel - I thought - is like the tunnel I saw on that "ghost train" ride in an amusement park I once went when I was a child. This thing I'm on too is just a monkey train. After all, this dream, like any other dreams, is just made up of pieces of my own memories. It doesn't feel scary at all.
Just then there was another announcement. "The next station is, Ike-Zukuri, Ike-Zukuriiii(*2)."
Ike-zukuri? You mean like a fish? While I was still wondering, a loud scream broke out from behind. When I turned around, I saw the man in the last seat was surrounded by four ugly midgets ( 3*) dressed in rags.
Before my eyes, the man was cut into pieces with sharp knives and it was really like an ike-zukuri. An overpowering stench filled the air, and the man screamed and screamed until my ears began to hurt. Bloody intestines and various organs were pulled out of the man's body and scattered all around him. Immediately behind me sat an ashen-faced woman with long hair, but she seemed totally uninterested of what was happening behind her, in spite of the ghastly din it was making.
I for one was certainly unprepared for this turn of events, and began to feel scared. I thought I would wait a little longer and see what happened next, and then try to wake up. Before I knew it, the man on the last seat was gone, leaving behind only some dark, reddish blood and chunks of meat. The woman behind me was still looking straight ahead with a blank look on her face.
"The next station is Gouging Ouuut, Gouuuging Ouuuuut," the announcement said.
This time two midgets appeared and with something that looked like serrated spoons they began to gouge out the eyes of the woman behind me. The woman's face, which had been a total blank only a moment before, turned into a mask of great fear and pain; then came from her a piercing scream, which nearly shattered my eardrums. I saw her eyeballs pop out. The stench of sweat and blood was unbearable. I bent over, trembling with fear. This was it. I couldn't bear it anymore. Guessing from how things had been, the next would be my turn, since I sat in the third seat from the back. I was going to wake up - but not, I decided, before I check what the announcement would be next.
"The next station is Mince Meat, Mince Meeeaaaat."
This was the worst I could possibly expect. I could easily imagine what was going to happen. I focused all my energy on waking up from the dream. "Wake up, wake up, wake up....." This intensive praying was usually enough to escape from a dream.
Abruptly, I heard something buzzing and wheezing close to me. A midget crawled up into my lap and held up some sort of device and waved it towards me. It must be a tool to turn me into a mince meat. Still, all I could do was close my eyes tight and pray frantically "come on, please, wake up! Wake up wake up wake up wake up...!" The buzzing sound was getting closer and closer. Finally it got so close that I felt the wind pressure on my face. And just when I thought it was the end of me, everything became quiet and still.
I managed to escape from the nightmare. I was wet all over with sweat, and tears were streaming down my cheeks. It wasn't until after I went to the kitchen and drank tons of water, that I was finally able to calm down. The dream was real - too real; but it was just a dream, nothing more, I told myself.
The following day at school I told my friends about the dream. They just found it funny. It was only a dream, they said, and that was all.
Then four years passed and I became a college student. I kept myself busy with studying and working. So much had been going on in my life that by that time I had completely forgotten about the dream.
But one night, it started again.
"The next station is Gouging Ouuut, Gouuuging Ouuuuut," the dream began from that scene. Immediately, my memories came flooding back. Things carried on in exactly the same way as before. The two midgets were gouging out the woman's eyes. I started praying straight away ."Wake up, wake up, wake up!"
But this time, for some reason, I couldn't wake up as easily as the last time. "Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up....."
"The next station is Mince Meat, Mince Meeeaaaat," said the announcement. The time was running out. I heard the familiar buzzing, and it was getting closer and closer. "Wake up, come on, wake up wake up wake up!!"
A dead silence descended. I somehow managed to escape again. With a huge relief I was about to open my eyes when I heard: "you are going to run away agaiiiin? But the next time is goiiing to be yourrr laaast." It was the voice of that announcer in the dream. When I opened my eyes I was back in my own room.
The last voice wasn't a part of the dream. I heard it in the real world, there is no mistake about it. Why me? What things have I done to deserve this? Since then I have not had the same dream again; but I know that if I ever dream it again, I will die, probably by a heart attack or something. It might appear to be a heart attack in the real life, but it will be a "mince meat" in the other world.....
1* - A "monkey train" is how some people call a toy train in Japan. There used to be a famous toy train in Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, run by a real monkey (actually all the monkey did was just sit on the train and nothing else). You can see a picture of the original monkey train here. The monkey train of Ueno Zoo was banned after people started vociferating about "animal rights." The monkey train is now gone, but the name lives on by itself.
2* - Ike-Zukuri (or iki-zukuri) could be literally translated as "live-making or live-arranging." It is a fish served alive and whole, slices of flesh having been cut and put back in place (kensyusha's new college Japanese-English Dictionary, 5th edition). Go here to see what it looks like.
3* - I've got nothing against little people. In fact, I measure only about 5ft that I might be called a midget myself.